One of the most exclusive clubs in all of baseball is 3000 hits. It's a milestone that often takes a player two decades to reach. The MLB average for hits ranges from 125-to 150, with some players entering elite levels of 175-200 hits per season.
The 500 HR club is even more exclusive as only 28 players have reached that milestone. 500 HR requires elite power, consistency, and dominance and often is another milestone that can take around two decades to achieve.
As we learned and witnessed in 2022, Tigers 1B/DH Miguel Caberea joined an elite list of seven players to do both; the other six: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, Willey Mays, Eddie Murray, and Rafael Palmeiro.
So, who could be the next player(s) to do it. Let's dive in and look at a mix of players under the age of 25, a group of 26-31, and 32+ years old. We will look at these over three separate blog posts.
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Side note: The age mentioned of the player will be their age come to the end of the '22 seasons. Also, the '22 season is not subtracted from the number of seasons it will take the player to reach the milestone. Example- 5 seasons- '22-'26 would be the range. Lastly, let's take a look at the young stars of the MLB today, leading their generation into greatness. The under 25 club.
INF Rafael Devers of the Boston Redsox is one player. I am excited to see him get into his prime and just demolish the AL East and be one of the underrated stars in the sport. The 25yo 3B currently sits at 616H and 115HR over his 4yr career. Devers averages 177H and 33HR per season. With those averages thus far and maintained, he would need 13.57 seasons to reach 3K hits and 11.66 seasons to reach 500HR. Devers is one of the guys who has only gotten better, better, and better and is so young still, and the stars are the limit for him. Time will tell for RD, but as of now, I think playing until age 38 and reaching the milestones will and could happen.
OF Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves has two shortened seasons to date thanks to covid and ACL injury; however, at 24 years old has plenty of time to make up for lost ground. The former RoY to date has 426H and 105HR. Acuna averages 175H and 43HR per season. If he were to maintain those exact numbers, he would need 14.70 seasons to reach 3K hits and 9.18 to hit the 500HR milestone. Again, age 38 isn't a high calling card for well-rounded players and athletes, and baseball, power, and contact age well. Acuna has both, and I think that he can reach the mark.
INF Fernando Tatis Jr. of the SD Padres is recovering from a self-inflicted reckless wrist injury. At 23yo, he also has plenty of time to make up for any lost time. Tatis, to date, has 303H and 81HR. His 162G averages give him 180H and 48HR. I don't think these numbers are sustainable, but we have to go off; with these averages, it would take Tatis Jr 14.98 seasons to reach 3K hits and 8.72 seasons to reach 500HR. Tatis has light-tower power, and I think he will push 500HR if not 600HR during his career, and 3K hits will fall to the wayside. Health, intelligent choices and discipline will define Tatis's career.
INF Vlad Guerero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays was considered a bust when he came up and played 3B for the Jays. Move him to 1B, and now he is an MVP and one of the best in all of baseball. Thus far in their 23yo career, he has 392H and 77HR. That shakes out to a 162G average of 176H and 35HR. If he maintains these numbers, he will need 14.81 seasons to reach 3K hits and 12.08 seasons to reach 500HR. I think that VGJ will crack both clubs as his bat will age well at his position and will lead the Jays to a world series during his tenure there. Again, age 38 for a 1B isn't outlandish. It's honestly the ideal position, it seems.
OF Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals was, if you believe it or not, the 6th youngest player on an MLB roster on opening day. Keep in mind that he is in his 5th season at age 23. Soto is the definition of generational talent. Thus far in his career, he has 500H and 101HR. That shakes out to give him 168H and 34HR per 162G. If he maintains those numbers and doesn't get even better, which is doubtful, he needs 14.88 seasons to reach 3K H and 11.73 seasons to hit 500HR. Corner OF/DH is another ideal position to crack these elite clubs, and Soto, the generational talent himself, I have no doubt he will become a member of both.
Stay tuned for the "What about these guys." We will talk about guys like Cody Bellinger, Nolan Arenado, Corey Seager, and others and see if they could reach either club.